Washington State University

Revised 3-02
Radiation Safety Office

Laboratory Radiation Safety Practices

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The Radiation Safety Office (RSO) requires that University laboratory personnel observe the following safety practices. These rules are intended to:

Body Monitoring
Frequently monitor hands, feet, clothing, and shoes, especially before leaving the laboratory.

Use suitable monitoring equipment such as portable survey meters which directly provide the detection rate in counts/min or counts/sec.
Wear personal dosimeters properly when required (e.g., film badge, pocket dosimeter, extremity monitor). See 9.45.
Protective Clothing
Wear protective clothing and equipment, such as lab coats, overshoes, and goggles. Trousers or slacks must provide full leg covering. Full shoes or boots must provide foot covering.
Protect the hands by wearing plastic gloves.
Prevention of Internal Contamination
Do not drink, eat, chew, smoke, or apply cosmetics in a radioactive materials laboratory.

Even if parts of the laboratory are "inactive," it is necessary to go out of the laboratory for drinking, eating, smoking, chewing, or applying cosmetics.

Do not lick gummed labels, comb hair, or pipette radioactive solutions using mouth in a radioactive materials laboratory.

If internal contamination is suspected, contact the RSO at once.
Ensure properly posted notices designating radiation areas and locations where radioactive materials and radiation machines are used. See 9.32. Contact the RSO for assistance.
Posting Emergency Information
Post a notice with current emergency information for Radiation Safety Office personnel and the emergency procedures shown below in a central and visible location in the laboratory.
Laboratory Survey
Survey the laboratory area before commencing an experiment. This action will ensure that the laboratory is a safe place to start the work. Allocate a smaller portion of the surveyed area for experimental work.

In case of an accident, contain the radioactivity and decontaminate that area. See below for emergency procedures.

Contact the Radiation Safety Office (RSO) for assistance. See also 9.40 and 9.42.
Plan each experiment and set up the work area before working with radioactive materials (RAM).
This procedure minimizes the potential of spreading contamination.
Fume Hoods
Work in fume hoods when appropriate, especially when working with volatile radioactive materials. Avoid open bench-top experiments for volatile materials.

Check the label on the hood to ensure that the annual hood certification by Facilities Services, Operations is current. If the hood is used for iodination, check also to ensure that the RSO label certifying an annual smoke test is current.

Ensure that the fume hood is in satisfactory condition (e.g., strippable or washable paint on exposed areas, proper air-flow, unclogged drains).
Glove Boxes
For certain situations, a glove box is preferred to a fume hood. Consult with the RSO prior to initiating work in a glove box.

If an RSO hazard assessment so indicates, it is preferable to use glove boxes with pressure inside the box slightly less (by about one inch of water) than atmospheric pressure.
Radiation Shielding
Use appropriate radiation shields (e.g., lead or Plexiglas) when necessary.

In shielding samples, do not forget that the back or sides of the hood may face an adjacent laboratory; it will be necessary to consider and check exposure to this area as well.

Contact the Radiation Safety Office (RSO) for assistance; telephone 335-8916.
Store radioactive material in closed containers to prevent airborne contamination and minimize spill potential.

Do not transport open containers from one part of the laboratory to another. Use double-containment to contain any potential spills.

Label all containers properly (date, radionuclide, chemical formula, quantity of radioactivity, and authorized user's name). See 9.32. Use CAUTION-RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL stickers or labels appropriately.
See 9.40 for general decontamination procedures.
Cleanup After Work
Survey the area prior to cleanup.

Dispose of all waste appropriately.

Decontaminate the working area and clean up all equipment immediately after use.

Check the area with survey equipment to ensure the adequacy of the cleanup.

Consult with the Radiation Safety Office (RSO) if unable to clean up the area successfully.
Contaminated Areas
Laboratory workers must inform the RSO about any area which is contaminated and requires sign, shielding, or access control.

Restrict access to contaminated areas and post signs to indicate the hazard. Remove the barriers only after consultation with the Radiation Safety Office.
General Chemical Procedures
At WSU, a majority of experiments using radioisotopes are chemical in nature. It is essential to adopt good experimental procedures in dealing with chemicals. Consult with Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) for guidance regarding specific chemicals.

General Accident Procedures

Report by Telephone
Pullman campus users must report radiation accidents promptly to the Radiation Safety Office (RSO) by telephone at 335-8916 (during normal business hours) or 911 (on a 24-hour basis).

Non-Pullman campus users must report radiation accidents promptly to the RSO by telephone at 335-8916 (during normal business hours) or the local county/area emergency response number (on a 24-hour basis).
Written Reports
After reporting the accident by telephone, complete the Radioactive Materials Incident and/or Accident Report and route the form to the RSO. Print the PDF master on 9.35.7 or complete onscreen and print to obtain copies of the form as needed.
Injury Reports
If an individual is injured, submit an online Incident Report (Accidental Injury and/or Occupational Illness) to Human Resource Services (HRS) within 24 hours of the incident. See 2.24. The online Incident Report is available from the HRS Incident Report website at:


Cleanup and Surveys
Perform necessary cleanup efforts and confirmatory radiation surveys. Contact the RSO for assistance as needed.
Chemicals Involved
If any hazardous chemicals are involved, consult the Laboratory Safety Manual for cleanup procedures. See 5.62.

Contact EH&S for assistance.
Minor Spill
When there is a minor radiation hazard:
Intermediate Spill
When a spill includes radiation hazard and slight chance of airborne radioactivity:
Spill With Airborne Hazard
When a spill includes major airborne radioactivity:
Radiation Field Exposure
When exposure of any individual to an above-normal radiation field is suspected:

See the PDF master form:
9.35.7: Radioactive Materials Incident and/or Accident Report
Print or complete onscreen and print as needed